Thursday, June 30, 2011

6 FAT MEN to keep me cool!

It's 105 in Ta-town today - crazy summer heat!  But I'm "stayin' cool" with my favorite 6 FAT MEN!  Who are these merrily obese mystery guys?  L*K's new SNOWMAN Flip-its!

Our next Flip-it series will be a group of six snowmen, tentatively called "6 FAT MEN". The series will have 6 different little leaflets, each with a unique shape and design, and a snowflake button.'s the FUN part...all 6 designs will fit together in a sort of winter puzzle. We'll supply a few FREE elements to fill the empty spaces in the snowy puzzle.

My desk is a little messier and scarier than usual as I'm stitching on ALL 6 models at once.  Why do I stitch my own models?  Why do I work on them all at once? I have to choose a color palette and use it consistently throughout all the designs. I want all 6 chubby snowmen to look great by themselves (for their closeups!), but also to fit nicely in the bigger snowy puzzle. I jump from design to design, filling in elements I'm sure about, delaying stitching the areas I'm unsure of for color selection. I've finished 3 designs (should finish the 4th later tonight) and hope to do the other two over the holiday weekend. 

I wasn't completely satisfied with the last 2 designs, so I've been busy this afternoon tweaking and changing them.  I designed everything a few weeks ago, but sometimes it's best to let things sit a bit, and then suddenly you have more ideas and different solutions to design problems.

Meanwhile, I'm listening to books on CD during the intense model stitching process. The current one is "Left Neglected" by Lisa Genova, and it's wonderful and interesting, and yes, even educational!

Wishing a fabulous 4th holiday to all...and plenty of time for your recreational stitching!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Yummy art show!

Question: What are 2 things you are crazy about?
Answer: My daughter Sarah and food!

Last weekend we had a super daughter/foodie experience!  Our daughter Sarah was the June artist of the month at Mead's Corner Coffeehouse. This coffeehouse is operated by our church and Alan and I have been really involved from it's beginning almost 3 years ago...from finding a place to rent, painting the exterior, tiling the bathroom and now as volunteers. Every month they feature art from a local artist.

This past Friday was the monthly Final Friday Art Crawl when galleries, studios and anywhere else that can hang art (like our coffeehouse) were open for a must-see Friday night event. Sarah now lives in Indiana with husband Jeff, but she made the LONG drive to Wichita for the big weekend. Alan and I had hung her artwork at the beginning of the month and it has been a joy to see her tasty paintings all month in our cozy retreat...and to share them with everyone else!

Friday night was BUSY...Final Friday wanderers, 3 local bands and their groupies, and a seemingly endless supply of young people passed through Mead's Corner. Lots of Sarah's old friends from school dropped by (what a treat!) and her high school art teacher made a special visit....and FAMILY...lots of family!!

But the highlight of the evening was the BIG SURPRISE!  Alan and I had arranged to fly husband Jeff in from Texas where he is doing a summer internship.  Our friends volunteered for the sneaky airport pickup and whisked him to Mead's Corner (after a flight delay) to surprise her about 10:30.  And boy, was she surprised...and thrilled to see Jeff in person (not on Skype)!!! I nearly killed ME to keep this secret for over a month - I told everyone I knew - and swore them to secrecy. 

What a joyful weekend we all had together. Did I mention it was also Alan's BIRTHDAY that night? We celebrated later with a Snickers cheesecake.  All those dessert-y paintings really worked up our appetite for something sweet. Check out this super candybar cheesecake recipe at our other daughter Ali's food

Sarah's theme for the show was the "sweet things in life", so she painted a collection of dessert themed oils, along with a selection of pastel tea cups. Below is a print of her margarita cupcake that I framed to hang in my kitchen over my stovetop.

And...a pastel teacup that hangs in my L*K office.

Check out all of Sarah's goodies on her website at  In addition to her original artwork, she has nice quality prints on canvas paper available to purchase. I'm headed to the kitchen for a break, because I think there is still one sliver of that Snickers cheesecake languishing in the frig!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

100K on a skinny bike seat

What do you do on Saturday mornings in the summer?  Whenever we can, we bike through the backroads of rural Kansas with our pals...exploring all the little towns, checking the crops, waving to the farmers...and all that!

Last Saturday we participated in a very special ride to benefit Open Door, a local homeless ministry.  We started at a local Methodist church, then rode to various churches all around the area, eventually covering about 100 kilometers (66 miles in all!).  At each stop we were greeted with snacks, drinks, encouragement, hospitality and a shady spot to rest! Above in photo, a bunch of my girlfriends (I'm 4th from left) looking perky BEFORE the ride.

We passed through lots of small towns along the way...Maize, Bentley, Sedgwick, Valley Center, Furley (above), Kechi, and finally returned to Wichita. I challenge all of you Kansans to locate these towns!

One of our favorite stops wasn't at a church...just in a friendly farmer's front yard. There really wasn't a town closeby, so we contacted the farmer in advance for us to set up in his yard! The people running this stop were all from my Sunday School class. Check out the awesome K-State Wildcats shelter!

The whole ride really began months earlier with lots of planning meetings, committees and preparation. Alan was in charge of marking the route, so he spent the 2 evenings before the route putting markers all over the county.  We had about 20 of these t-shirt signs, along with 12 cans of spray paint arrows all over the pavement. Alan's pointer finger may still look fluorescent orange from defacing roadways with spray paint on a very windy evening!

These twin sister riders won the prize for their Bike Princess costumes, complete with fuzzy helmets and (temporary) princess tattoes. Cindy (right) is also a local Methodist pastor.

As always, we celebrated with FOOD!  The night before, 13 friends gathered at our house for some carb-loading and a potluck pasta dinner.  Then we ate our way through the 100K, 5 hour ride. Later that evening, we met friends for homemade ice cream and leftover goodies from the rest stops.

The BEST part is, so far we have raised $20,000 and the donations continue to arrive. Last year, the ride raised $30,000, so we are optimistic to reach that goal again. Meanwhile, I'm done with that skinny bike seat...until this Saturday morning! 

Friday, June 17, 2011

TGIF means 13 for dinner!

Back in the old days (when I was a teen), TGIF was such a popular phrase...and I still love it! Several years ago when I was on a mission trip to Guatemala, I remember explaining the meaning of TGIF to my patient Spanish teacher. She knew a lot of US euphemisms, but this one was new to sweet Patricia!

TGIF this week means that L*K got the new releases shipped....whoopee!  It's always crazy around here when we release new products. Shipping over 200 shops on the same day is just a big deal, no matter how organized you are.  We started packing on Saturday and finished the final labels on Tuesday night. Wednesday AM Alan delivered crates full of smaller boxes to the loading dock at the airport post office. Because it was a beautiful day, we stacked the UPS boxes on the driveway and waited for the friendly UPS man. I'm not sure he was that excited to see us and our pile of boxes, but we always warn him in advance.

Here are the new releases...shiny wrappers and all!  Autumn Alphabet chartpak (left) is the 3rd part of our seasonal series and includes embellishments (squirrel, moon and tan buttons). Life's a Beach (top middle) is our Limited Edition summer kit - only available this summer - so grab this peachy beachy kit now! (See June 2 posting for a closeup of this Limited Edition design). Bottom right is our new Inspirational Boxer "I Know God".  Faithful blog followers have been watching this design progress all the way from early sketch to publication...and here it is! Boxer includes pattern, 32 ct. flax linen, flower buttons, and a BONUS pin cushion design. The cool round box you see in the pic is the BONUS pin cushion design. You choose a scrap from fabric from your stash, and we supply the pattern and a couple chartreuse beads.

3 NEW SNIPPETS!  Left is our Live Laugh Love Now & Then Snippet. We've started a new series where we republish best-selling oldies, while adding a 2nd "fresh look" at the old design. Both designs are included - choose your favorite or stitch them both. Middle is Flora McSample's Farm Sampler. Our sampler girl Flora is down on the farm with critters, barn, sunflowers, the whole corral! Right side is our Wine A Bit Snippet. This design is pictured in a cool wine bag from Stitch-A-Gift, but you can put it anywhere. Pour yourself a glass and you'll still finish this design in one evening.

After we ship the auto, it takes a couple days to recuperate, clean the office, and catch up on everything we neglected during the process. I'm off to my local needlework shop, Heart's Desire in Wichita, KS, to select some frames, pick up some perforated paper for a new project, and deliver some of my daughter's artwork for framing. 

Then...we seem to have 13 friends coming for dinner...HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?  I sent an email invitation yesterday and...more on next post!!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The real Farm-ville!

Even tho we live in the Midwest, we aren't farmers.  OK, my husband Alan grew up on the farm and has a host of hilarious stories to tell about his childhood adventures on the farm. Really, it's a wonder farm kids live to adulthood!

Last weekend we embraced our rural inner selves and took a field trip to some friends' farm just across the border in Oklahoma.  We loaded up 7 of our friends for the 75 mile trip to Wakita, OK - only 75 miles south of Wichita. As we crossed the border the main difference between Kansas and Oklahoma was obvious - the DIRT in Oklahoma is RED!  It's like God drew a line between the states...Kansas dirt is brown, Oklahoma dirt is rusty red!

What is this???  It's a field of golden, ripe wheat just begging to be cut!  Just for you farm novices, the farmers plant their wheat in the fall. Then it hangs out all winter and grows a beautiful green in the spring. As the summer heats up, the wheat matures and turns a gorgeous gold.  At this time, the farmers feverishly work to cut the grain, before any weird weather might ruin the crop.  During harvest, the crazed farmers work all day and into the right to get the crop in.  Our farmers friends were in the middle of harvest, but graciously invited us to visit and see them in action.

Here' s a pic of our friend farmer Eddie's big boy toy combine. - the machine that harvests the wheat. These things are modern marvels (unlike the ones Alan used as a kid) with enclosed cabs and even GPS navigation! Farmer Eddie uses 2 combines and 4 farm hands (3 men, one very able young college gal) to help him harvest nearly 2500 acres of wheat.

The farm workers are all powered by wife Connie, who serves AMAZING farm food daily. Are you familiar with the famous food blogger and cookbook author Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman? She lives right down the road, also in Oklahoma. Connie might not be as famous, but I'm sure she can challenge her in the kitchen! By the way, we all brought food to "pay our way" and make sure we had something to eat after the real men left the table?!

Did I mention that the tiny town of Wakita was the film site for the famous (infamous) Twister movie?  YES! While the Twisiter movie was really painful for anyone who knows anything about tornadoes to watch (not realistic), the movie was good for Wakita and a few Twister things remain...the Twister Museum and the Twister Cafe.

IMPORTANT thing I almost forgot - their farm is called "Green Acres", just like the TV show we all remember. So, as we rolled into the driveway we broke into song and some of us (Alan and I) made it through the entire theme song...probably evidence that we watched too much TV when we were kids!

Friday, June 10, 2011

I hate HAIL!!!

What a night!!!  The weathermen were on TV for 3 HOURS continuously last evening. Hey, it's Kansas, so we have the most zealous weathermen around. Like all real Kansans, Alan and I have grown incredibly capable of IGNORING them.  When the weathermen get really excited, we run outside to get a good look at the sky ourselves! After 2 hours of non-stop warnings and sirens, we went to the office to get some work done. Maybe that was a mistake...because then the REAL storm started!

After a whole year of drought (while the rest of the nation is too wet), we had rains of Biblical proportions!  The sad part, tho, was the HAIL (those white things on the photo)!  Oh, how I hate the sound of hail on the roof, hail on the windows, hail on the sidewalk, and especially, hail on the flowers and garden! We were stuck in the office with torrential rain and hail outside, and Henry could only sigh and chew on his slimy rubber cheeseburger.

I wanted to go outside and take closeups of the hail balls, but it was raining too hard, and I didn't want to get nailed on the head with a hail ball. They melted quickly, because it was over 100 degrees today. Now the cleanup begins....where is that leaf blower?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Printing Delivered! (Or...what to do when it's 102)

Remember the long process we began on April 4l, following a design from inception to publication? We're FINALLY done - almost!!

The boxes delivered from the printer and now our work really begins.  Everything need to be assembled before it can be packed and shipped.  This batch of printing is really pretty easy. There aren't any Flip-its or Quick-its in this batch (which require putting a charm/button in a tiny 1" x 1" sack, then attaching to printing with our beloved adhesive Glu-Dots).

We're busy assembling boxes and boxes of Boxers, the same design we've been following thru the publishing process. In advance, we've cut, folded and ironed hundreds of pieces of fabric. Our helper Carmen does most of this - yes, she gets paid to iron!  I also do this sometimes in the evenings while watching TV. Somehow that makes it more fun.  Also in anticipation of the printing, we've sacked the embellishments in tiny zip bags.  Now we put everything together in a Boxer case, and seal it shut with a clear sticker.

Also for this new product release, we're busy assembling an embellished chartpak, the Autumn Alphabet. It's the 3rd in our seasonal series, and we're excited about this one - the autumn colors are gorgeous!  We did, however, have a SQUIRREL EMERGENCY develop!  One of our included charms is an antique gold squirrel charm, and they arrived without their little hanging loops - not good!  And also, not usable - no way to attach them to the stitchery!  So the charm supplier had to reorder from her supplier, rush it through the plater who adds the antique gold finish, and they just arrived today with ridiculously expensive overnight shipping. We'll put them in little bags with the other embellishments and sack them with the printing later this week. Maybe I'll invite a friend or two over to help???

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Life's a Beach (even in Kansas!)

It's SUMMER and we're celebrating with a special new SUMMER KIT!  Check out this sneak peek!

Remember the rule about not wearing your white shoes after Labor Day? We're changing it up a bit! We designed a SPECIAL SUMMER KIT with some fun white flip flops.  Here's the's ONLY AVAILABLE during the summer of 2011.  When Labor Day rolls around in September, you'll put away your white flip flops...and we'll put this kit away for good.  Sure, needlework shops will be able to sell those kits they already have in stock, but they won't be able to reorder after Sept. 5.

We're beginning shipping on these kits soon, so let your local needlework shop know if you want to go to the beach with L*K and preorder.  Kit includes sandy colored 18 ct. fabric (perfect for stitchers on the go!), 2 hand-dyed yellow flower buttons and exclusive pattern.

It's always a beach somewhere (even here in Kansas, Land of Toto)!!!